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Guest Blog by Author CRAIG JOHNSON!

[ Edited ]

I'm excited to introduce you to today's guest blogger, CRAIG JOHNSON, who has all kinds of news, including the debut of an A&E TV show based on his character, Sheriff Walt Longmire.

 

 

 

 

LONGMIRE_Key_Art_FIN-2.jpg
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PROFILE

 

 

Craig Johnson has received high praise for his Sheriff Walt Longmire novels The Cold DishDeath Without Company,Kindness Goes Unpunished, Another Man's Moccasins, and The Dark Horse, which received a superfecta of starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal, and was named one of Publisher's Weekly's best books of the year (2009).

 

Each has been a Booksense/IndieNext pick with The Cold Dish and The Dark Horse both DILYS award finalists and Death Without Company the Wyoming Historical Association's Book of the Year. Another Man's Moccasins received the Western Writer's of America Spur Award for best novel of 2008 as well as the Mountains and Plains award for fiction book of the year. The next Walt Longmire novel, Junkyard Dogs, will be released by Viking on June 1, 2010.

 

The Cold Dish was translated into French in 2008 as Little Birdand is in competition for Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. It was also selected for Le Grand Prix des Litteratures Policieres and was a finalist for Le Prix 813Death Without Company, Le Camp des Morts in French, was just released in April of this year. The Dark Horse will be translated into Czechoslovakian in 2010.

 

Craig is a board member of the MWA, having been elected as a member at large this year. He lives in Ucross, WY, population 25.

 

 

 

 

 

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INTERROGATION

 

Universal Westerns: PW Talks with Author Craig Johnson

 

by Jordan Foster -- Publishers Weekly, 4/6/2009

 

Craig Johnson's The Dark Horse (Reviews, Mar. 30) is his fifth contemporary mystery featuring Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire.

 

What would you want everyone to know about Walt's home state of Wyoming?

 

It's diverse, and even if there are only 535,000 of us, it's not as square as it looks, culturally or physically. We get called “the big empty,” but open places tend to draw in the interesting.

 

What made you decide to set The Dark Horse outside of Walt's jurisdiction?

 

I overheard a conversation in a Wyoming sheriff's office when one sheriff called another to see if he'd mind if he came into the other sheriff's county and took a look around—it concerned a case he was working on. Now, as an ex-cop pretty familiar with the fiefdoms that can result out of jurisdictional application, I was curious to see how this other sheriff would respond. The sheriff in whose office I was sitting put his hand over the phone and said, “He says he'll pay for my gas.” I thought it was so funny, I ended up putting it in the book.

 

Native American culture figures prominently in your books. What's your inspiration?

 

My ranch is adjacent to both the Crow and Cheyenne reservations, and I've got an awful lot of friends up there. They're an amazing people; I'm consistently humbled by how remarkable they are. There's one guy, Marcus Red Thunder, whom I use freely in assembling the character of Henry Standing Bear. He's got a sharp sense of humor. Most Indians I know have great senses of humor. Of course, looking at the treatment of Native Americans from a historical perspective, you have to laugh or you'd end up crying your eyes out.

 

Do you consider your books to be “westerns”?

 

They are in the sense that they're novels set in the American West, but I try to deal with the universal imperative of the human condition. I love and live in the West, but I also try to be honest about it. I'd be a fool to not realize that there's a certain amount of baggage that goes along with writing contemporary western fiction, but instead of falling into the ruts, I try and take it down the road less traveled.

 

Like Walt, you also live in a small Wyoming town. Do people assume that the two of you are interchangeable?

 

At events, a lot of people start their questions with, “So when you and Henry went up in the mountains....” I always correct them, for fear that they might want me to arrest someone

 

 

Craig Johnson on The Cold Dish

 

Who is Walt based on? Henry? Vic?VVic?

 

I agree with Wallace Stegner that the greatest fraud perpetrated on the reading public is the statement at the beginning of each novel that states that this is a work of fiction and that any similarity to persons living or dead…

 

What a crock. I'm always looking for traits, turns of phrase, anything that might help me inform my characters; it's all grist for the mill.

 

Walt is special because he's the voice of the book, the head that you have to be inside for hundreds of pages; so, he better be honest and be real. I think that the reading public is pretty smart; they can tell if you're on thin ice. I try and keep Walt close and, while I wouldn't say he was me, I'd say he was closer, on a whole, than any of the other characters. He's who I'd like to be in about ten years, but I'm off to an awfully slow start… I assembled him, to a certain extent, from a lot of my experiences and from a lot of the individuals that I worked with in law enforcement. I basically tried to engender a sheriff that embodied all the best qualities of police work that I could think of: compassion, intelligence, dogged determination, and strong sense of right and wrong.

 

Henry is a composite character who I developed from two very close friends, one a Lakota Sioux the other a Cree. They're both pretty incredible guys with great senses of humor and a kind of wistful spirituality that gives me an ability to explore areas that Walt might otherwise leave untouched. I think a lot of writers make the same mistake with Indians that they do with cops, forgetting that they're people.

 

Vic. Where do I start? I needed an urban voice in The Cold Dish, and I was interested in making her a different kind of character than what you might assume to live in Absaroka County, Wyoming. I needed somebody who was savvy and smart and being kind of sexy wasn't a necessarily a bad thing…

 

Why did you make Walt's deputy a woman?

 

Sexual tension. Even with the difference in age and background, I thought it might be more interesting if they had this unrequited relationship, the potential of something happening even if it never did. I also needed a female voice to balance out the weight of the masculine narrative. I've always thought, like Walt, that life is infinitely more interesting with women around.

 

Why does Vic have such a foul mouth?

 

There's that great line in Inherit the Wind , ‘There are few enough words everybody understands…' My father is a master of profanity and, I have to admit, that at times it can be pretty damn funny. It just doesn't fit with Walt's voice, but it doesn't hurt to have Vic be more than just a little profane. It's the way cops talk, at least all the cops I worked with.

 

Why did you write a murder mystery?

 

I grew up with parents that read the genre, and I can see how wanting to know who done it can be a powerful motivation for finishing a book; Lord knows I used it to write one, but I think it just kind of happened by accident. I'm interested in who done it as much as the next guy, but I suspect that I might be more interested in what happens to the people who are involved after a crime has been committed. How life continues along with the investigation of criminal activity. And I'm interested in consequence.

 

Why write?

 

I'm a product of one of those families that used to go out on the porch and talk after dinner, not watch television, not surf the net… Just talk. Maybe I'm giving away my age a little, but I think it's also a product of a rural upbringing. My father says I come from a long line of bullshitters, and I'm just the first one to write the bullshit down.

 

I guess a lot of it comes from being interested in people, enjoying listening to them talk about themselves, and trying to recreate conversation in a novel.

 

I also enjoy the mechanics of writing, rolling up your sleeves in the face of that empty, blank page and getting started, following through with a story and seeing where it takes you. I was one of those kids that used to get hit with an eraser for looking out the windows and was told by second grade teachers that I'd never get ahead by day-dreaming… Shows how much they knew.

 

Did your surroundings growing up have anything to do with you being a writer?

 

I suppose so. Growing up in a rural situation gives you two options, finding a way to entertain yourself or having adults find something to occupy your time, like bailing hay. You'd be surprised how far your imagination will go to keep you away from honest labor.

 

I've always read a lot, and I think readers make good writers. I think that might be one of the reasons I enjoy writing and reading, the effort. It's not a passive form of entertainment, you have to put some effort out to get anything from it and that appeals to me.


Where did you get the idea for The Cold Dish?

 

There was a highly publicized case in New Jersey, which involved a young woman who had been abused in a similar situation. I think that's where the back-story came from. How these things can happen, how they're dealt with in a community, and how law enforcement is involved. How complete victories and losses can be an elusive quality in a complicated society such as ours, and how everybody gets hurt in these situations, everybody.

 

Why is the rape victim a Native American?

 

Indian. All the Indians I know laugh when people refer to them as Native Americans. Now to the question. Melissa is an Indian because I've always been interested in cross-cultural relationships, whether they are large, on a social basis, or small, interpersonal connections. I wondered what would happen between Walt and Henry, and what would happen to this little town on the edge of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Also, it's a story about the west, and the Indians have to be there, they're too wonderful to leave out.

 

Are the places in the book real?

 

Yep, every damn one of ‘em. It's easy to see stories everywhere I go. I wake up in Walt's world every morning.

 

Where did you practice law enforcement?

 

It was a large, metropolitan department in the east, which gave me an insight into the procedural aspects of law enforcement that makes writing this kind of novel a little easier. Walking a beat in a city is very different from sheriffing a county the size of Vermont, but there are similarities. I spent a lot of time with another good friend, Sheriff Larry Kirkpatrick of Johnson County, refitting my experiences to a more rural jurisdiction. I rode around with Larry a lot; herding cattle off the highway with a cruiser is a real talent…

 

Why is Chapter 12 different from the rest of the book?

 

As a writer, you get to know what your strengths and weaknesses are and, if you're honest, you get to work on both. I've always felt the most insecure about my writing the closer it gets to poetry and spirituality. I think we've all been pushed out onto the ragged edge of reality, and it's difficult to describe what happens there in words. When Walt gets stuck on the mountain in the blizzard, he has to confront himself. I think that's what I was trying to capture in the second part of Chapter 12. Most people love it, some people hate it, but I don't think it's the last time I'll go there.

 

Why did you decide to continue the story and write a second novel? 

Because my agent told me to. Just kidding. After I finished the book, I wandered around the ranch for a couple of weeks with my lower lip pooched out. Finally my wife asked me what was wrong. It was like a death, all these people and places were gone, and I couldn't help but wonder where they were and what had happened to them since I'd finished the book. I know I don't want to write Walt Longmire mysteries for the rest of my life, but I think I have enough interest in their lives to write a few more.

 

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CriminalElement.com |

Hold on to your ten-gallons, pardners, because A&E TV is cowboy-ing up. The cable network, better known for its reality shows like Storage Wars and Hoarders, will air a new scripted Western series, Longmire, based on Craig Johnson’s bestselling mysteries, this summer (the premiere is Sunday, June 3, 10 pm).

 

Walt Longmire

 

Featuring Australian actor Robert Taylor (The Matrix), as the stoic Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming, the series promises breathtaking western vistas, solid mysteries, pulse-pounding action, and a host of colorful characters causing mischief. Not the least of which are Walt’s new volatile deputy  Victoria “Vic” Moretti (played by Battlestar Galactica’s, Katee Sackhoff), and his best friend Henry Standing Bear (film, TV actor, and amateur chef Lou Diamond Phillips).

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It’s no secret that we’ve been excited to see Craig Johnson’s contemporary Western series come to TV, and it finally kicks off this June. Here are early peeks at Australian actor Robert Taylor (remember him as an Agent in The Matrix?) on location in Santa Fe, New Mexico in his leading role as the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. So far, we think it looks and sounds great! If you’re new to the series, here are cribbed notes onLongmire from A&E:

 

Widowed only a year, Longmire is a man in psychic repair who buries his pain behind a brave face and dry wit. Struggling since his wife’s death and at the urging of his daughter, Cady (Cassidy Freeman of Smallville), Longmire knows the time has come to turn his life around. With the help of Vic Moretti (Katee Sackhoff of Battlestar Galactica), a female deputy new to the department, he becomes reinvigorated about his job and committed to running for re-election.

 

When Branch (Bailey Chase of Damages), an ambitious, young deputy decides to run against him for sheriff, Longmire feels betrayed but remains steadfast in his dedication to the community. Longmire often turns to close friend and confidant Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips of Numb3rs) for support as he sets out to rebuild both his personal and professional life, one step at a time.

 

Photo caption: Robert Taylor as Sheriff Walt Longmire and Katee Sackhoff as Deputy Vic Moretti / A&E

 

 

Still_Walt_&_Vic.jpg
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Craig will be signing at Barnes & Noble Tuesday:

 

Billings, MT                                        Barnes & Noble, 7pm                        May 15

 

(Fricka - He'll be in your area on Friday!)

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Divorce Horse  

 

 

When Viking/Penguin contacted me about an especial short story to debut before the pub date of As the Crow Flies, the eighth book in the Walt Longmire series, I thought it might be a nice opportunity for a connecting tissue between novels.

            When I was starting out and was concerned about the artistic integrity of writing a series, Tony Hillerman gave me a piece of advice, telling me that I had to find a framework for the books--something that would connect them but also differentiate. Being a westerner, the thing I immediately thought of that divides my life and has an effect on me on a day-to-day basis are the seasons. Fully aware that June on the high plains is nothing like January, I pulled what I refer to as a Vivaldi and divided the novels into four seasons. This provided a framework which only allowed me only a few months between books that resulted with continuity in the series that readers seem to enjoy—not to say that this process is seamless.

            I decided to cover the seams by producing a short story that might provide a transition between novels, hence Divorce Horse 

Synopsis:

Walt Longmire, the longtime sheriff of Absaroka County , Wyoming , has little time to relax. Still recovering from his manhunt chasing down escaped convict and sociopath Reynaud Shade in the Bigh orn Mountains , Walt just can’t find the opportunity to sit back and kick off his cowboy boots. His daughter, Cady, is getting married in a few months to the brother of his under-sheriff Victoria Moretti and is in town, helping her dad ‘recuperate’ and to talk about love, life, and weddings.

Meanwhile, the American Indian Days Parade and Pow Wow are attracting tourists and trouble. The pride and joy of Tommy Jefferson’s stables—and the catalyst for his marital troubles—the notorious divorce horse, has gone missing, and Jefferson, renowned Indian Relay Racer and one-time meth head, wants him back. With the help of his best friend Henry Standing Bear and his daughter, The Greatest Legal Mind Of Our Time, Walt sets off to the races.

 

Divorce Horse is something new for me in that I don’t know that much about either e-readers or computers other than to type on it. I figure if I ever get associated with online poker, I’m doomed. For those of you who can’t cope with electronics, there’s a collection of all the short stories in the works with A.S.A.P. Publishing and I’ll keep you posted on that.

 

The television premiere of LONGMIRE appears to be going along swimmingly and so far we’re looking at a June date for the TV version of the good sheriff. I’ve been speaking to A&E and marketing plans are coming along, so I’ll keep you posted on that as well.

 


 

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As the Crow Flies (Walt Longmire Series #8)  

 

As the Crow Flies (Walt Longmire Series #8)

 

 

Overview

 

The Wyoming lawman returns after staking his claim on the New York Times bestseller list

Embarking on his eighth adventure, Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire has a more important matter on his mind than cowboys and criminals. His daughter, Cady, is getting married to the brother of his undersheriff, Victoria Moretti. Walt and old friend Henry Standing Bear are the de facto wedding planners and fear Cady’s wrath when the wedding locale arrangements go up in smoke two weeks before the big event.

 

The pair set out to find a new site for the nuptials on the Cheyenne Reservation, but their scouting expedition ends in horror as they witness a young Crow woman plummeting from Painted Warrior’s majestic cliffs. It’s not Walt’s turf, but the newly appointed tribal police chief and Iraqi war veteran, the beautiful Lolo Long, shanghais him into helping with the investigation. Walt is stretched thin as he mentors Lolo, attempts to catch the bad guys, and performs the role of father of the bride.

 

With the popularity of Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series growing apace, fans new and old will relish As the Crow Flies, the sheriff’s latest quirky and complex investigation.

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Post-It: The Man Behind the Star

 

by Craig Johnson

 

2011 was a heck of a year, with making the New York Times Bestseller List and with the announcement that A&E was green lighting LONGMIRE, but 2012 looks to be just as good with the premiere on June 3 of the ten-episode television series and with Barnes & Noble picking Hell is Empty as its Trade Paperback Mystery Pick of the month and As the Crow Flies as their Hardback Mystery Pick of the Month—the first time, they say, that both picks have been attributed to the same author. Go figure. All these things are truly wonderful, but would you like to know the thing that really keeps me in the game, why it is its so easy to write a Walt Longmire mystery novel every year?

            Walt.

            There’s a reason I chose a sheriff as my protagonist--not only because the office is emblematic of the American West—but because it’s the only elected, law-enforcement position in the country. Being the sheriff of the least populated county in the least populated state inAmericameans that Walt is immediately answerable to his constituency, a member of the community whose laws he enforces. It’s been said that ifFranceis an oil painting, thenWyomingis a charcoal sketch and that’s okay with me—a lot of things become more evident in a charcoal sketch. The sparseness of the environment allows Walt to deal with his surroundings in a seminal sense; a vertical figure on a horizontal landscape.

            The Longmire novels are written in first-person, which means that the sheriff is never very far from my thoughts or narrative. I tend to refer to Walt as a detective for the disenfranchised, a man whose secret weapon is his compassion for the less fortunate or forgotten members of society. I think he has an emotional empathy for the outsiders because, in a sense, even though he’s connected to his community, he’s one himself--a rogue male somewhat driven off from the herd, even if it is a self-imposed exile.

            Since Walt is the narrator, I knew the books were going to have a masculine propensity to the narrative and that I was going to have to introduce a number of strong, capable female characters to even things out—the result is that Walt is surrounded by this pride of lionesses who look after him. Ruby, his dispatcher is responsible for the structure of his days, Dorothy down at the Busy Bee Café is responsible for keeping him fed, his daughter Cady provides familial love and support, andVictoria‘Vic’ Moretti, Walt’s undersheriff, provides, well, something else…

            Walt’s also what I tend to refer to as over—over age, over weight, overly depressed—in short, dealing with a lot of the things that my readers deal with on a day-to-day basis; no six-foot-two of twisted steel and sex-appeal here, just a decent guy trying to do the right thing. I think in a crime-fiction field filled with anti-heroes and guys whose moral culpability allows them to kill of a couple dozen people by the end of each novel, Walt kind of stands out as a white hat. The old saying goes that you like people for their virtues, but you love them for their faults, and if there is one thing I didn’t take into account, it’s the amount that readers care about the character. Generally, the emails I get the most after a book’s release are the ones telling me I’m too hard on the sheriff and that I need to take it easy on him in the next book—readers think he’s real, and to me that’s the greatest compliment a writer can receive.

            When I first started writing the novels, Walt really wasn’t that smart, well-read or funny, which might explain why it took me so long to write the first novel, The Cold Dish. I started thinking that if I was going to be in this guy’s head for four-hundred pages, he better be interesting, so I made him an English Major; consequently the character became well-read and insightful. In one of the commercials for LONGMIRE, Walt is actually quoting Robert Frost, and I have to tell you I’m pretty proud of that.

The humor of the character came from all the ride-alongs I did with Wyomingand Montanasheriffs. Anybody who’s ever had a difficult job knows how important it is to keep your sense of humor--it’s the only way you get through the day. I remember a sheriff telling me about how I had a mistake in the rough draft of my fifth novel, The Dark Horse.

“You got a mistake right there in the first chapter; you got people drinking beer out of bottles on a bar in the Powder River—can-only bars on the Powder River, Craig.”

“Why is that?”

“’Cause if you give people bottles, they throw ‘em at each other.”

“Well, you can throw a full can of beer at somebody and hurt them.”

Pause. “Craig, nobody on the Powder Riverever threw a full can of beer.” 

That’s probably the thing that most cops write me about--Walt’s sense of humor.  

Another thing I like about him is his ability to surprise me. I was talking to Greer Shephard, the executive producer of the A&E series based on the books, and she asked me if I thought of Walt as being a verbose person and I said yes. She told me to go through one of my books and highlight his dialogue, what he actually says… She was right; he thinks a great deal but doesn’t say much—it was a genuine revelation.

        The eighth book in the series is out now—pub date is May 15 and you can preorder at Barnes & Noble. As the Crow Flies takes place almost exclusively on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, and is, as you’ve grown to expect, a departure. There is the regular ebb and flow of characters but there’s always one stalwart, a guy I can depend on to tell the story with me, a guy whose company I still enjoy even after eight books.

        I’ve really come to appreciate the guy, and I’m sure glad you do, too.

 

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Re: Guest Blog by Author CRAIG JOHNSON!

Hi, Craig, Hope you have a great visit here. I see that your mysteries have a western theme to them. How did you decide to do that.

 

What do you like about writing mysteries?

 

How to do come up with your titles?

 

I hope your visit is a great one.

 

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Re: Guest Blog by Author CRAIG JOHNSON!


becke_davis wrote:

Craig will be signing at Barnes & Noble Tuesday:

 

Billings, MT                                        Barnes & Noble, 7pm                        May 15

 

(Fricka - He'll be in your area on Friday!)



Where, becke, where??? I mean, that's great news! Now, you don't happen to know which bookstore Craig will be at, do you??? I mean, there are at least three Barnes and Noble store that are in fairly close proximity to where I live. Oh, man, I hope it's not going to be at the Desert Ridge one--the parking there is terrible! Oh, what am I saying? It doesn't matter which one, so long as I can get there. I'll deal with the parking later. Oh, I'm so excited. I just realized that the Longmire ads I've been seeing on A&E are about Craig's character!!!! Oh, I've got to go see if I can find which store Craig is going to be at!!!!!

" A murder mystery is the normal recreation of the noble mind."--Sister Carol Anne O' Marie
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becke, that was kind of cruel for you to tell me that Craig is going to be in my area Friday. I've been checking out all the info I could get from Barnes and Noble, and let me tell you, it is pathetic. I went to author's names first. They've got Craig''s appearances up to Tuesday, but nothing further than that, which is not very helpful to those of us who actually might have to plan ahead for one of these events.

 

Then I ended up going through every danged Barnes and Noble store in the Phoenix area. Nothing. Nada. There sure do seem to be a lot of Nook classes being offered, though.

 

Now I'm wondering--by "in your area," do you mean Arizona? 'cause it sure doesn't look as though Mr. Johnson has been booked into any of the Phoenix area B&N stores. I'll probably have to wait now until the Thursday edition of The Arizona Republic comes out to find out what store Craig's going to be in, and frankly by that time, it probably will be too late for me to make plans to go to the signing, if it isn't one of the stores that is within 25 miles of where I live. Barnes and Noble, shame on you. Your PR system for author appearances  STINKS!!!!

" A murder mystery is the normal recreation of the noble mind."--Sister Carol Anne O' Marie
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Fricka wrote:

becke, that was kind of cruel for you to tell me that Craig is going to be in my area Friday. I've been checking out all the info I could get from Barnes and Noble, and let me tell you, it is pathetic. I went to author's names first. They've got Craig''s appearances up to Tuesday, but nothing further than that, which is not very helpful to those of us who actually might have to plan ahead for one of these events.

 

Then I ended up going through every danged Barnes and Noble store in the Phoenix area. Nothing. Nada. There sure do seem to be a lot of Nook classes being offered, though.

 

Now I'm wondering--by "in your area," do you mean Arizona? 'cause it sure doesn't look as though Mr. Johnson has been booked into any of the Phoenix area B&N stores. I'll probably have to wait now until the Thursday edition of The Arizona Republic comes out to find out what store Craig's going to be in, and frankly by that time, it probably will be too late for me to make plans to go to the signing, if it isn't one of the stores that is within 25 miles of where I live. Barnes and Noble, shame on you. Your PR system for author appearances  STINKS!!!!


Fricka - Sorry to confuse you. I meant Craig will be at *cough* your "usual' bookstore. Sorry you went to so much hassle!

 

The full schedule is here: http://www.craigallenjohnson.com/

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Re: Guest Blog by Author CRAIG JOHNSON!

Hi, Craig. Wonderful idea for a blog. It sounds like your novels have taken off if there is a series coming out on Longmire. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
Distinguished Wordsmith
Fricka
Posts: 2,237
Registered: ‎05-04-2010
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Re: Guest Blog by Author CRAIG JOHNSON!


becke_davis wrote:


Fricka - Sorry to confuse you. I meant Craig will be at *cough* your "usual' bookstore. Sorry you went to so much hassle!

 

The full schedule is here: http://www.craigallenjohnson.com/




Ohhhhhh. Well, that's all right, then. I had gone to the web site for that store, but didn't see Craig's name on for Friday, but when I checked again after reading your post,  I see that he's on a double billing, and since I was scrolling in a hurry, I didn't catch his name underneath the other author's, the first time.  OK. Well,  I feel kind of silly now, but at least I found out before the signing and not afterwards!:catvery-happy:

" A murder mystery is the normal recreation of the noble mind."--Sister Carol Anne O' Marie